When Samoa wakes up on the morning of Saturday, December 31, it will find itself sharing the same day of the week, Saturday, December 31 with countries such as Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific Island nations.
Samoan time will have moved forward by a whole 24 hours having skipped Friday, December 30 entirely. The change is the result of the Samoan Governments plans to change the positioning of the International Date Line (IDL).
In line with biblical precepts on the subject, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Samoa will continue to observe the biblical Sabbath...
In doing so, Samoa will be in the Eastern Hemisphere in terms of the reckoning of time, together with its near neighbours and trading partners. For most purposes, the change will have no practical effect on people’s everyday lives. But by sharing the same time zones with these countries, the conduct of business and travel will be more convenient and less disruptive.
For the Christian community however, the change will have implications for the weekly day of worship. Sunday worship will continue uninterrupted for the majority even though Sunday will have moved from the first day of the week to the Seventh. For Seventh-day Adventists who observe the Biblical Sabbath, the change will present challenges because of the longstanding association of Saturday with the seventh day of the week.
As its name suggests, one of the distinguishing features of the Seventh-day Adventist faith is its observance of the biblical Sabbath, which according to Scripture is on the Seventh day of the week:
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done,” (Genesis 2:2,3).
|*Pastor Uili Solofa is president of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Samoa.|
At present, the seventh day of the week falls on Saturday like everywhere else around the world. When Samoa repositions the IDL on December 29, 2011 as planned, it will also reallocate the days of the week so that the seventh day of the week will fall on Sunday instead of Saturday. The numbering of the weekly cycle remains as before but the names of the days will change.
In line with biblical precepts on the subject, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Samoa will continue to observe the biblical Sabbath on the seventh day of the weekly cycle, irrespective of the change of name to Sunday. The naming of the days of the week after pagan gods is a relatively recent human invention after all. The biblical record of creation refers only to: “And the evening and the first morning were the first day…” “And the evening and the morning were the second day.” This formula of the recording the days of the week repeats itself until the seventh day when the Lord rested from all his labour, (see Genesis 1:8-31, Genesis 2:1-3).
In arriving at this challenging decision for the average church member, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Samoa has taken every opportunity to consult it membership at home as well as the wider Church. The decision is grounded on Scripture and guided by established Church policy. Similar changes to the IDL have already taken place with Samoa’s near neighbours, Kiribati and Tonga.
Consistency has been the hallmark of the Churches position in dealing with government inspired changes in the recording of time. The biblical command of observing the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord has been the guiding principle all along. That’s why in Tonga today, the biblical Sabbath is observed on the Sunday following the Tongan governments decision to change the position of the IDL.
In Samoa, this will be the second time governments have introduced changes in time in relation to the IDL. When the Wesleyan and LMS missionaries first arrived in Samoa in 1828 and 1830 respectively, they adopted for their work in the South Pacific the British system of determining time. It meant that the seventh day of the week fell on the Sunday together with Australia, New Zealand and other British territories.
In 1844, the IDL together with the Prime Meridian and the 180 Meridian were established as the universally accepted way of recording calendar days by the International Meridian Conference held in Washington DC. In 1892, Samoa adopted the universal system for itself and as a result the counting of days of the week fell into line with the rest of the world with the seventh day falling on the Saturday.
But that is about to change with Samoa again adopting the Eastern Hemisphere system of recording of the week. When that happens, Monday will again be the first day of the week with the seventh day falling on the Sunday. For the Seventh-day Adventist faithful in Samoa, Sunday will coincide with the Biblical Sabbath and therefore the day of worship as commanded by Scripture.
*Photo by Pablo Lillo